NFL approves plan to reward teams with draft picks for developing minority coaches, GMs
NFL owners adopted a resolution on Tuesday that will compensate teams with draft picks for losing minority staff members to head coaching jobs and other premium positions elsewhere.
It’s another attempt by the league to bolster minority hiring for high-level jobs against the backdrop of a lagging record of diversity by its teams.
The gist of the resolution:
• A team that loses a minority assistant coach who becomes a head coach or loses a personnel executive who becomes a general manager will receive third-round compensatory picks in each of the next two drafts.
• A team that loses two minority staffers to head coach and general manager positions would receive three third-round picks.
Given multiple measures instituted in the name of diversity over many years, why will this resolution – approved unanimously by owners, pending approval from the NFL Players Association -- make a difference for a sustained change in the hiring patterns?
“I think that’s how we’ve made progress over the past several years,” Goodell told reporters during conference call on Tuesday that followed the virtual NFL owners meeting. “It’s continually keeping a focus on this, adapting, looking to see what areas we can improve on, and that constant evolution of improvement, to try to make sure we’re doing everything appropriate to give minorities an opportunity to advance in the head coaching ranks or the coaching ranks in general, in personnel and other football areas, to well beyond that. To the people at the league office here, to club levels, this is an important initiative of the NFL.”
The measure, 2020 Resolution JC-2A, differs from a previous plan that owners considered last spring that that would have provided incentives for teams hiring minority candidates. Instead, the incentives are granted to teams to theoretically develop more minority candidates.
Pushback to the NFL’s previous incentive plan prompted owners, led by a diversity committee headed by Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II, to formulate an alternative plan.
“I don’t look at this as a silver bullet,” Rooney told USA TODAY Sports. “This is just one more piece of the puzzle, one in a number of steps.”
Earlier this year, the NFL expanded the Rooney Rule to stipulate that teams must interview at least two minority candidates (rather than one) for head coaching vacancies. Also, the Rule now dictates that at least one minority must be interviewed for any open coordinator position. And in May, owners passed a resolution that removed barriers with contract clauses that prevented coordinators (minorities or otherwise) from interviewing for head coaching jobs.
“I don’t that any one of them is the answer,” Rooney said of the newest measures, “but we hope the cumulative effect of all of them will make a difference.”
In a league where roughly 75% of players are African-Americans, there are only four minority head coaches. A similar pattern exists at general manager, with the Cleveland Browns' Andrew Berry and Miami Dolphins' Chris Grier the only Black men to hold the position.
“You look at the NFL and its track record and you have to wonder: How much of it is the result of racist attitudes and disregard to fairness?” Rod Graves, executive director of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, told USA TODAY Sports during an interview last week. “Those types of issues have to come up when you look at the NFL’s track record.”
Follow Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell.